January 17, 2001
So who was the bright spark that thought making a game consisting mainly of mini-cars was a good idea? I mean seriously, which sounds better, a driving simulation featuring Ferrari F355's or a game featuring Mr. Bean styled mini cars? It's not a hard choice. But the funny thing is that Top Gear DareDevil is a surprisingly fun game, as long as you don't want extreme acceleration and speed.
Top Gear DareDevil is set in four different cities which include Rome, London, Tokyo and San Francisco. While these cities seem to appear in almost every racing game these days they are very detailed and polished in this game. The idea behind Top Gear Dare Devil is simple. You must collect a set amount of Dare Devil tokens within a time limit. The game is comprised of 27 levels although they are all within the 4 cities, with the tokens moved to different areas to create the new levels. As with most games where you have to complete set tasks within a time limit it becomes very addictive with that "one more go" sensation.
During the levels it is possible to pick up other items such as nitro's and clocks with give you a speed boost or add extra time to your clock. Other more unconventional items include keys and wrenches with will unlock hidden levels or give you some more continues. Bonus points are added to your score for reckless driving in the cities and crashing into other cars or street side objects such as mail boxes or benches is more beneficial to the final result then a hindrance. As with most racing games it is possible to unlock new cars, and fortunately they start to become more conventional and powerful then the mini's you begin the game with.
There are however, a couple of annoying problems with this game. The main problem is the actual control of the cars. For some reason controlling the cars, and the mini's in particular, is no where near as easy as it should be. You would expect mini's to have a tight turning circle, but that is not the case and trying to turn while driving with any speed is almost impossible. Instead you are forced to use handbrake slides while driving. It's an inconsistency that should have been resolved prior to release. The other problem is that while the game allows you to destroy almost anything, running into a lamppost results in your car coming to a sudden stop. Surely a lamppost is weaker then a solid mail box.
Several months ago I got some high quality video footage of this game from the E3 show in America. What I saw didn't even warrant a second look. There was poor collision detection, a poor frame rate, and the game looked very rough around the edges. Fortunately with time this game has improved immensely. In fact, the graphics are one of the games strengths. It's unfortunate then that the developers didn't get the official licenses to model the cars on real-life versions.
Sound, as you would expect from a game filled with mini-cars is very weedy. None of the other sounds including collisions, squeals of the tires and surrounding environment are likely to win any awards either. The music is forgettable, but doesn't ever reach an annoying point where you want to turn it off.
Perhaps the biggest problem with Top Gear Dare Devil isn't with the game itself, but our mindset. Playing a game with mini-cars leaves you wanting more. While the game isn't just made up of mini's (there are about 70 cars in total) most of the cars aren't very powerful leaving you wanting more. Still, as a game in it's own right Top Gear Dare Devil is quite a fun ride with some good graphics. If you after something a little different then Top Gear Dare Devil might be up your alley, but it's definitely not the best game on the PS2. Perhaps you should rent this game before purchasing.